Fascist Grand Council

Fascist Grand Council
   The law instituting the Gran Consiglio del Fascismo on 28 December 1928, intended it to be “the supreme organ entrusted with the prescription and coordination” of the regime’s activities. The head of government (i.e., Benito Mussolini) was, by right, the president of the Grand Council, making this law the final step in the creation of his personal dictatorship. The normal prerogatives of a chairman, that is to say, setting the agenda and convening meetings, were spelled out in the law, a fact that makes clear the intention to leave all initiatives in the hands of the Duce. He could designate the secretary of the Partito Nazionale Fascista/ National Fascist Party (PNF), already the secretary of the Grand Council, as his surrogate, but the initiative lay with the head of government.
   Automatic membership fell to the members of the Quadrumvirate, to former secretaries of the PNF, and to those cabinet members who had been members of the government for the entire three years since the Fascist “revolution.” Additional members pro tempore included the presidents of each house of Parliament and of the Chamber of Corporations (after the corporate system displaced the parliamentary houses); current cabinet officers; the general in command of the militia; the members of the PNF executive committee; and the presidents of the Accademia d’Italia, of the Fascist Institute for Culture, of the Special Tribunal for crimes against the state, and of the Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Nazionali Lavoratori/Italian Confederation of National Workers’Unions (CISNAL). The party apparently had absorbed the state. Structural or constitutional changes were put within the purview of the Grand Council, but no such changes were introduced until the regime’s end, brought about when Mussolini agreed to call a meeting of the Council on the afternoon of 24 June 1943. It was the first meeting of the Council to be held since December 1939; not even when Mussolini assumed the command of the country’s armed forces in 1940 did a meeting take place. There, Dino Grandi advanced a motion to restore power to conduct the war to the throne; it was carried by a 19 to 7 majority with one abstention. Those in favor included Giacomo Acerbo, Galeazzo Ciano, Giuseppe Bottai, and Luigi Federzoni, as well as Emilio De Bono and Cesare De Vecchi, both members of the Quadrumvirate. This action enabled King Victor Emmanuel III to have Mussolini arrested and put into “protective custody.”
   See also Fascism.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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